Low Flows May Affect River Festival

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The fourth annual Reno River Festival kicked off Thursday, and eager kayakers are already in the water, gearing up for the weekend competition.

Organizers are expecting the event to bring in some 25-thousand visitors and more-than three million dollars in revenue.

But there's some concern about the lower water flow in the Truckee. Last year's water flow in the Truckee was about four times higher than it is this year. The snow runoff, or lack thereof is barely a trickle when you compare it.

Jonny Meyers has been practicing for the weekend's freestyle competition...and trying to get a feel for the low flow water levels.

"The features are a little lower, a little trickier. So you gotta dial into them cause they're definitely different than they have been in the past."

Hydrologists measure the flow of the Truckee in cubic feet per second, or CFS.

"How fast one cubic volume of water would move a foot in one second. Right now, in the river it's about 650," said John Litchfield, hydrologist and planner for the River Fest.

Compared to 2500 CFS in 2006...and even higher in 2005, which is the last time we had a high flow year in the Truckee.

"The water was just about to the top of the walls, so it would be about 4 or 5 feet over my head where I am standing."

While the light flow may take some getting used to for kayakers, hydrologists are optimistic.

"We have so much diversity in the park that we can move our competitions around the park to the best spot at that water level. In 2004, when we had our first festival, it was almost the exact same flow conditions as this and it was one of our best events ever," said Litchfield.

Say competitors like Meyers, who wish for a heavier water flow:

"It's kind of a bummer this year, but we gotta make the best of what we've got."

The first race is at 10:00 a.m. Friday. It's the freestyle preliminaries.

Then Saturday, there are freestyle finals, plus the boatercross preliminaries.

Finally on sunday, the boatercross finals and the downhill race.

The event is free for all ages.